Parenting Through Fear

16 Oct

I used to be fearless. Well, maybe not completely fearless, worries and doubts still plagued me, but overall my philosophy on life was:

You can’t let your fear paralyze you.

You have to move forward and choose your own adventure.

And so I did. Throughout my early to mid-twenties I threw aside normal ideas of what life should look like, such as college and a career, and went on some crazy adventures. I lived a day at a time, trusting God for what I needed and that still small voice to guide me to the next step. And He did. I lived on a bus traveling all over the U.S. and later to ten different countries. It was never easy, but it was always worth it.

Adventure Girl.

I remember waking up to voices shouting in Spanish, which I could barely understand. They were angry. I looked out the bus window. It was dark, the sun barely beginning to rise. We were in the middle of thick, uninhabitable jungle, driving through the edge of Costa Rica to make our way to the Panama border.  A man had got on the bus and was arguing loudly with the bus driver.

Oh my God. Are we being hijacked?

The thought entered my mind and left it immediately, peace washing over me.

Whatever happens, I will be ok. I am exactly where I need to be.

It turned out it wasn’t a bus-jacking, but rather an accident miles ahead that had left traffic halted on both sides. A Semi-truck had tried to cross this dilapidated bridge and broken it, getting its tires and front end wedged into the few slats that held the whole poorly designed structure together.

Vehicles stopped in the middle of the jungle

It was about 4 am and we were told to get off the bus, get our backpacks from below and hike through the jungle, across this broken bridge. We then climbed a rickety ladder to the shore on the other side, where another bus would be waiting to take us to the border.

I was thrilled. Honestly. I couldn’t hide my grin.

Danger! Excitement! Who gets to do this?!

Fast-forward 7 years later, I am pushing 30, married with a kid. I haven’t left Texas in two years. Now I see news stories about ISIS beheadings and Ebola and I am gripped with fear.

It is a foreign feeling, icy and paralyzing in the pit of my stomach.

Something happened 4 months ago when I went through labor and held my precious daughter in my arms for the first time.

Suddenly, fear and worry and anxiety took on a whole new level because I am have been given the beautiful burden of parenthood.

Nightmares come, usually where I am somewhere adventurous and my daughter is in danger.

All at once the carefree girl I was came crashing head-to-head with this grown-up woman who loves her child more than life itself.

Love that is fierce and crushing and overwhelming and full of all the best and the worst possibilities.

I’ve always been someone who has always believed the best about people, always given them the benefit of doubt. Suddenly every stranger who looks at me the wrong was is a potential criminal or terrorist or psycho that could hurt my baby.

I’ve always been very nonchalant about my health, never had any major medical issues, or worried about sickness and injury. Now, I lay in bed at night fearful of going on a plane or even to the grocery store because this horrible disease is spreading and so close to home.

I know nothing I am saying is new, it is a deep God-given instinct for the survival of our species.

I must protect my young.

But I don’t want to project my fears on her. I don’t want her to grow up assuming the worst or being overly cautious.

After all, life is a risk.

We never know what we could face when we chose to walk out our door into the sunlight.

Pain and loss is inevitable, you can’t escape it.

Maybe I shouldn’t try so hard to escape my fear, but rather push through it to the other side and choose to live life anyways.

Maybe that is true bravery.

Now that I am a mom, there is always going to be something to worry about. No matter the situation, or what the news blares loudly.  Whether they find the cure for Ebola tomorrow or it turns into this century’s black plague. Whether or not we defeat terrorism far away, or it rears its evil head within our borders.

Perfect love drives out all fear.

I don’t think this means fear goes away completely, it just means it’s pushed out of the spotlight in your heart because Love takes over and there isn’t room for both.

When love is in center stages, the light it radiates shines into every dark corner, illuminating the bad things as smaller than we thought they were.

And then I can say with confidence once again,

Whatever happens, we will be ok. We are exactly where we need to be.

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